30 January 2024 - Global

UN-Habitat signs agreement with Save the Children to make cities greener, healthier, and more child-friendly

Save the Children press release

NAIROBI, 30 January 2024 — The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and child rights NGO Save the Children have signed a partnership agreement to ensure global urban development is more responsive to the unique needs of urban children, particularly those living in slums and informal settlements.

Childhood is mostly and increasingly experienced in urban areas, and the number of children living in slums is expected to triple by 2050 to around 1.5 billion.[1] One in four urban children currently live in slums and informal settlements[2] and climate, conflict, and economic-induced migration will only further accelerate urban inequalities.

A major ambition of the partnership will be to implement bold child-friendly public space initiatives around the world in response to the lack of child-friendly, clean, and green public spaces, especially in low-income urban communities where they are most needed.

Michal Mlynar, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Acting Executive Director of UN-Habitat, said: “Through this partnership, we will be working to ensure that children’s needs and priorities shape the urban built environment. Of all the areas that will be urban in 2050, 75 per cent are yet to be built. UN-Habitat is instrumental in supporting governments to develop city plans, national urban plans, and slum upgrading programmes that work for all, including our children.

“We are excited to work in partnership with Save the Children who have more than 100 years of experience in transforming the lives of children and creating opportunities for children and youth.”

Inger Ashing, CEO of Save the Children International, said: “The estimated 500 million children that live in slums and informal settlements today face multiple deprivations including lack of access to safe and secure housing, clean, and green play spaces, safe streets, running water, electricity, suitable toilets, decent schools, and health services.

Transforming cities and slums into clean, healthy, and sustainable environments is central to ensuring children’s rights are met and that they are able to survive, learn and be protected from harm.”

The partnership will ensure children’s and caregivers’ voices, needs, and priorities are considered and reflected in national and local urban plans and policies and slum upgrading programmes. The agreement will also allow UN-Habitat and Save the Children to jointly advocate and communicate in global forums and to elevate urban issues affecting children living in cities and slums on the national agendas of Member States and at the World Urban Forum. 

Access to green and safe spaces is vital for supporting children’s physical and mental well-being, learning, play, and social relations. These spaces also provide much-needed cool shaded areas for local communities during heatwaves and a place for community events and gatherings. 


For more information please contact:

Daphnee Cook, Daphnee.Cook@savethechildren.org;

Our media out of hours (BST) contact is media@savethechildren.org.uk / +44(0)7831 650409



[1] UN DESA Population Division (2019): World urbanization prospects: The 2018 revision

[2] UN-Habitat Global Urban Indicators database, 2022 version.

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